Japanese Yakuza – Lords of Japan pt.4/6
Yakuza also have ties to the Japanese realty market and banking, through jiageya. Jiageya specialize in inducing holders of small real estate to sell their property so that estate companies can carry out much larger development plans. Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980s is often blamed on real estate speculation by banking subsidiaries. After the collapse of the Japanese property bubble, a manager of a major bank in Nagoya was assinated, and much speculation ensued about the banking industry’s indirect connection to the Japanese underworld.
Yakuza have been known to make large investments in legitimate, mainstream companies. In 1989 Susumu Ishii, the Oyabun of the Inagawa-kai (a well known Yakuza group) bought US$ 255 million worth of Tokyo Kyuko Electric Railway’s stock. Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission has knowledge of more than 50 listed companies with ties to organized crime, and in March 2008 the Osaka Securities Exchange decided to review all listed companies and expel those with Yakuza ties.
As a matter of principle, theft is not recognised as a legitimate activity of yakuza. This is in line with the idea that their activities are semi-open; theft by definition would be a covert activity. More importantly, such an act would be considered a trespass by the community. Also, yakuza usually do not conduct the actual business operation by themselves. Core business activities such as merchandising, loan sharking or management of gambling houses are typically managed by non-yakuza members who pay protection fees for their activities.
There is much evidence of Yakuza involvement in international crime. There are many tattooed Yakuza members imprisoned in various Asian prisons for such crimes as drug trafficking and arms smuggling. In 1997, one verified Yakuza member was caught smuggling 4 kilograms (8.82 pounds) of heroin into Canada. In 1999, Italian-American mafia Bonnano family member, Mickey Zaffarano, was overheard talking about the profits of the ography trade that both families could profit from. Another Yakuza racket is bringing women of other ethnicities/races, especially East European and Asian to Japan under the lure of a glamourous position, then forcing the women into prostitution.
Yakuza often take part in local festivals such as Sanja Matsuri – they often carry the shrine through the streets proudly showing off their elaborate tattoos.
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Filed under: History of the Italian Mafia
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